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Dallas ISD Program Celebrates Immigrant & Refugee Students' Diversity

McShan Elementary School's Voices of Vickery has been awarded the Junior League of Dallas' Innovative Teaching grant.

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Lee A. McShan Jr. Elementary School in Dallas' Vickery Meadow neighborhood has a diverse student body.

"We have students who are from Burma, and Congo, from Eritrea, from Somalia, from Afghanistan, and Malaysia," fourth-grade teacher Arianna Zeb said. "Many of the children here at McShan are refugees and immigrants."

So Zeb started a program called Voices of Vickery. It's a year-long essay and photo project that encourages students to look back at where they came from, and look forward to where they'd like to go.

"I'm so proud of these children and their resilience and curiosity because it's really difficult for families when they first move to America," Zeb said. "Their diverse backgrounds really bring so much to our school and so much to our community, and I wanted students to have the opportunity to share that with other people."

Fifth-grader Ruksana is a refugee who was born in Bangladesh and moved to Dallas from Burma. She was part of Voice of Vickery as a fourth-grade student last year.

"I think that it's interesting because some other people are from other countries and their languages are cool to learn; and their food, their culture, their dance, their music are, like, interesting," she said.

"All of us can make connections with one another," Zeb said. "I think it's important for children to realize this at a young age."

For the last two years, Voices of Vickery has received a $2,400 Innovative Teaching grant from the Junior League of Dallas.

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